Communist TDB to turn down free packing offer by Amul in Sabarimala

published on November 26, 2007

TDB likely to turn down Amul’s prasadam packing offer

Arun Lakshman | Thiruvananthapuram- Daily Pioneer

The Travancore Dewaswom Board (TDB) is likely to reject the offer made by the Anand Milk Union Ltd (Amul) to package the Aravana prasadam free of cost, sources in the board said.

The reason for the blatant rejection of the offer is the fear among the officials and certain power centres within the board that there would not be any personal benefits for these higher ups in the board from a cooperative society like Amul.

The board is also on the verge of finalising discussions for setting up its own package plant which includes preparation, cooling and packing of the Aravana prasadam. The new plant is expected to be of having a capacity of 5-lakh cans per day instead of the present capacity of 80,000 cans per day.

Sources in the board told The Pioneer that when there was an acute shortage of Aravana at the beginning of the season, the higher ups in the board pressed the panic button and a SOS was sent to an industrialist who is said to be associated with the temple as well as with a leading Ayurvedic medicine group for the flip-open lids which are generally procured from Taiwan.

The former contractors of the Aravana had not trained the board employees and when the board decided to produce the Aravana on its own it had to face serious problems. There were even restrictions to the number of Aravana cans offered to the devotees owing to the fall in production.

The TDB has in the first time in the history of the Sabarimala pilgrim season failed to provide proper supply of Aravana to the devotees.

There are also reports that several sponsors have already come forward for the packing plant but sources told The Pioneer that the board is not too keen for corporate sponsorship as there would not be any personal benefits for the board officials if big groups are roped in.

Another difficulty is that they would clearly expose the shortcomings of the present set up and once these groups comes in there are possibilities of them making their presence felt in other areas including the food supply.

The hotels and restaurants in the hill shrine are not organised and moreover the poor sanitary conditions add to the woes. The board too fear that these shabby conditions could be exposed once the corporate sponsors land up in Sabarimala.

A devotee who is visiting the temple for the past several years unhindered told The Pioneer “The board and the Government is not keen regarding the problems faced by the pilgrims and the real devotees of Sabarimala Ayyappan.

The board has even failed to provide unlimited supply of Aravana to the devotees and what is suprising is that the board doesn’t even a clue that the season begins from November 17th, the first day of Vrishika?”

He adds, “I have got clear feelers from the board that they would reject the Amul offer for packing of Aravana and the offer of corporate sponsors as they want the same system to continue which mints money for certain higher ups in the board.”

It may be noted that the Travancore Dewaswom board has not done anything to expel those employees in the counting chamber even after media reported extensive smuggling of currencies and coins which are offered by the devotees to the Lord.

The pilferage reported is to the tune of around Rs 3 crore for the season comprising of seventy days.

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